NY Giants 2017: Can Ben McAdoo Order a Grand Slam Breakfast Without a Running Game

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David Malinsky

Friday, August 18, 2017 12:57 PM GMT

Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 12:57 PM GMT

Is there anything on Ben McAdoo's Denny's menu that shows a running play that will work...We may not see Adam Wainwright again for a while…Time to Bet Some NFL - Does anyone want (need?) to win a game more this week than the Chargers (and does any coach care less about this week’s scoreboard than Sean Payton)…

Point Blank – August 18, 2017

The annals of NFL history will record forever that in Ben McAdoo’s first season as a head coach he took a team off of back-to-back 6-10 campaigns and finished 11-5, before losing in the first round of the playoffs. That buys someone a lot of good will, and secures them in their position indefinitely into the future. Yet I am still not sure if McAdoo is even a good OC yet, much less a qualified HC, and it begins there in terms of understanding the 2017 Giants, as the team-by-team tour across the NFL camps continues.

I thought the McAdoo resume was thin when the Giants brought him in as OC in 2014, a position he had never held before. His last two stints prior to that were six seasons as the Green Bay TE coach, and two more as the QB coach. Coaching Aaron Rodgers can make anyone look good; just think of all of those New England OCs that got opportunities elsewhere because of Tom Brady, and not their abilities (Charlie Weiss still has checks coming in every month).

So what happened in 2016 to give McAdoo’s HC resume such a boost? Let’s go to the Football Outsiders charts –

NYG   Offense  Defense

2015       #16       #31

2016       #22        #2

The Giants defense had the biggest single-season improvement in NFL history, in part because 2015 was such an injury-riddled mess. They wisely added pieces that fit well in Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes, and it was that defense that made so many key stops in enabling the team to go 7-2 in games decided by six points or less. New York got six wins when scoring 20 points or less, which is a neat trick in the modern NFL.

That defense needed to get the job done because the offense was below average, despite that supposedly being McAdoo’s specialty. Now I begin 2017 with where I left off in the past from the PB archives, questioning just when McAdoo will finally figure out which Grand Slam breakfast to order from that Denny’s menu he keeps referring to.

There is a particular problem this season – are there any running plays at all on that list that can work?

 

Do the Giants have the NFL’s weakest set of RBs?

The first thing I want to do is establish some perspective on McAdoo’s offensive coaching acumen, because it is going to take some creative work to get mileage out of the current RB corps. Let’s try it this way, looking at the average placement for the New York offense on the Football Outsiders charts in the Eli Manning era, beginning with his first full season as a starter in 2005 –

Average Rank Without McAdoo:   13.9

Average Rank With McAdoo:   17.3

Relative to the rest of the league, the three McAdoo seasons have been worse than the eight campaigns Manning played without him.

Now the 2017 problem – is there a weaker RB corps across the league than the Giants grouping of Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman, Orleans Darkwa and Shaun Draughn? There may not be a legit #1 on that list, and from a role standpoint who is going to get the tough carries in short yardage and goal-to-go situations?

One of the football science issues I have noted in previewing other teams already is that it isn’t just about measuring the running game in terms of how the individual numbers pile up, but how the entire offense flows based on just how much opposing defenses respect those runners. Are the Giants opponents going to be willing to allow yards per carry overland, not fearing anything breaking big, and keeping their safeties in deep coverage to negate Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall? They did that through much of 2016, and the NYG ground game could not generate numbers anyway. It was a running game that may have been even worse than the numbers showed.

This season is going to be a test for McAdoo’s schemes. There is a lot of optimism based on the 2016 W/L count, but perhaps more than should be; this offense has yet to take a real direction under a coach that was hired for that particular purpose. What should you be looking for? Can the Giants muster just enough of a run threat to have opposing safeties even in the television picture when the ball is snapped. If not, regardless of how good the talent is at WR, for Manning to find room downfield through clogged passing lanes will not be easy.

 

About Last Night, and when do we see Adam Wainwright again

A major talking point in the Thursday edition was how different Wainwright’s post-All Star break baseball outcomes were from the quality of pitches he was throwing. At Pittsburgh it went from bad to worse. The Cardinals only retired half of the 16 batters he faced, allowing five earned runs over three innings, and now is up to the dismal count of having only one strikeout over the last 68 plate appearances against him, that coming vs. fellow pitcher Homer Bailey.

It appears that we may not see Wainwright again for a while. He was sent back to St. Louis for examination and may be heading to the DL soon. Here was his rather blunt post-game take – “It’s hard for me to look my guys in the face and tell them, you know, ‘I’m sorry’. I wasn’t as good as it needed to be. It didn’t get better like we wanted it do.”

Even after last night’s awful showing Wainwright still sports a 2-0/4.81 since the All Star break, the Cardinals going 4-1 across the five starts. Yet in those games he has allowed 36 base-runners vs. only seven strikeouts. Sometimes the bounces of baseball simply allows for such things.

 

Time to Bet Some NFL - Does anyone want (need?) to win a game more this week than the Chargers, and does any coach care less about this week’s scoreboard than Sean Payton?

It isn’t rocket science that a major key in beating the NFL pre-season is finding either Play On or Play Against coaches, with the dream scenario being when they go head to head. I believe we have that in Los Angeles on Sunday night, so it will be #430 LA Chargers (8:00 Eastern) going into pocket, taking advantage of the -3 in the current marketplace that I don’t expect to see at kickoff.

There is a general notion of first-year coaches wanting to win home games, and there are multiple streams of consciousness behind that. In the majority of the settings a new coach has come in because the team was struggling, which means not only wanting to build their confidence, but also to establish something in front of the home fans as quickly as possible. That is the position we find Anthony Lynn in, and there may be a particular urgency here – last Sunday’s 48-17 loss to the Seahawks played out in front of only 21,054, and since the Chargers don’t play at the StubHub center again until September 17, there is a need to make something good happen.

It is important to note that the scoreboard vs. Seattle was not all that significant – Philip Rivers and the first-team offense put together a 75-yard TD march in their only appearance. And then even more important to note that pre-season scoreboards have not mattered much at all to Sean Payton of late, his Saints on an 0-9 run over the past three Augusts that included a head-to-head defeat vs. Mike Tomlin in the battle of the two coaches that may care the least.

It is easy to understand the Payton apathy – his only priority on offense is to keep Drew Brees healthy, and it also appears that we may not see anything from Adrian Peterson until next week’s home game vs. the Texans, if even then. What Payton does have to address is a legitimate battle for the #3 QB spot, an even competition between Garrett Grayson and Ryan Nassib, which means that even #2 Chase Daniel may not be ticketed for all that much action.

I believe this is a meaningless scoreboard for Payton – his team came out to Los Angeles early for some joint practices with the Chargers, and after the game there are joint practices with the Texans before the two teams meet in the Superdome next Saturday. He can accomplish plenty of development through the cycle. A win in this one doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme for his team, but I believe for Lynn and the Chargers it is a different matter entirely.

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 If you want to “Follow the Money”

I got a chance to sit in with good guys Pauly Howard and Mitch Moss yesterday on their daily show on the VSIN network, which is broadcasting live from the Westgate as SuperContest weekend takes place. You can have a listen right here as we roll off of various sporting topics -

 

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